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Blizzard Of '88 To Be Recalled At Homestead National Monument Of America


So many children were killed by the blizzard that swept the Plains states on January 12, 1888, that the storm became known as "the Children's Blizzard." Beginning Saturday, you'll be able to learn more about this storm at Homestead National Monument of America in Nebraska.

An Omaha Children's Museum traveling exhibit inspired by the poetry book, "The Blizzard Voices," will be at the national monument Saturday through May 7. It features two interactive kiosks inspired by this book by Ted Kooser, the former U.S. poet laureate and winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Mr. Kooser will read from this book at the Homestead Education Center this coming Sunday at 1 p.m.

"The Blizzard Voices" is based on the horrific blizzard that struck the Great Plains on January 12, 1888, leaving over 230 dead, many of them children.

"We rely on the stories and observations of the past to help us to prepare for future occurrences. This interactive traveling exhibit delves into these stories and the lessons they hold," said Matt Walker, traveling exhibits coordinator.

The History Kiosk features an interactive clock that reveals the events of the blizzard day. As students turn the second-hand of the clock, a circle window rotates around revealing a description of what took place at approximately each hour of the day. As the clock rotates, a thermometer drops in temperature. This interactive stresses how quickly the storm swept through the region and how fast the temperature changed.

To the right of the clock, two cords of rope hang from the kiosk wall. Students can extend both ropes to their full length. The first rope measures the distance people standing 6 feet from one another in the storm could no longer hear each other due to the loud volume of winds blowing. The second rope shows how people could only see 2 feet in front of them as the thick snow came down from the sky.

The other side of the History Kiosk explains how people throughout history have used folklore as a means to predict weather and how these observations are still relevant today.

The Art Kiosk will illustrate the devastation of a blizzard storm in terms of its beauty by investigating the art of the snowflake. Students will have opportunities to express themselves artistically and poetically in conjunction with the art of quilting on the other side of the Art Kiosk.

The exhibit opens Saturday with special activities from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for children. Rose Fetty, a former first grade teacher, will read "The Schoolchildren's Blizzard" by Marty Rhodes Figley. This fast-paced, high interest tale set in Nebraska is based on the true story of Minnie Freeman, a teacher who led her students to safety through the deadly blizzard. A mural of Minnie Freeman's heroics hangs in the Capital Building in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Homestead is probably one of our underappreciated areas, too.

It was fascinating when I visited there in 2009. Instead of spending just the couple of hours I'd planned to spend, it turned into an all day thing. The museum displays are great and the staff was wonderful.

The people of the town of Beatrice were some of the most hospitable I've met anywhere.

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